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Sammy Harry

USB Mikes - Any recommendations?

I'm considering purchasing the following and would like some opinions beforehand:

Samson Portable USB Go Mike - retails for around $50

Blue Microphone - Snowball USB Microphone - retails for around $99 on sale

Blue Microphone - Snowflake USB Microphone - retails for around $69 on sale

Advice, recommendations, pans? Don't want to spend more than around $150

BTW: It is for a Toshiba Laptop and my operating system is (gawd help me) Windows Vista.

Thanks

SH

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I've heard OK reports on the Snowball, but don't have any direct experience.

However, before you part with any cash, tell us something about what you want to do with it. A USB mic may not be the best way to go in the longer term.

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though iv no personal experience either.. iv heard usb mic's arnt exactly ideal

my first set up was a tascam US 122 interface, and a very simple microphone, id highly suggest something similar.

just because an interface is very useful, and will most probably give you phantom power to support better mic's than usb can do, as well as guitar channels and lots more..

my biggest advice it dosnt matter how new the technology is as long as it works.

tascam US 122's are pretty aged now, so if you can get one (or something similar) it should be way within your budget

and while i sold mine on to a close friend so i dont know how its doing, the friend said he still has fun with it when hes got time :)..

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What you're wanting to do with the mic now matters, and what you think you'll want long term matters, too. What do you want to use it for?

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Folks thanks for the responses; the mic is so that I can record vocals to melodies I create with software such as Jam Studio and the like. Overall, I am not looking for pro quality recordings, just good enough to be able to record my singing so that I can convince others to sing them better for me. It would also be good if I could record acoustic or electric guitar as well as voice, as I have a few musicians who have offered to accompany me in playing around with this.

That make sense?

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Well, in that case, I'd go for the Samson Go Mic.

The specs are similar enough. It can be used in both omni and cardioid patterns and, from the tests I have seen and heard, it does the job well. It's also the cheapest.

It will do the job you want it to do and, should you want to do more later, you won't have wasted money - I suspect you could always find a use for something small and easy to set up, such as this.

You may also find that a mic stand will help and you will need to consider what software to use with it. Try it and see. If you have issues with setting things up, or with latency, post here and we can make some suggestions (it can be confusing at first).

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Sammy, I've had a Samson C01U USB mic for a few years now. It was £70 including deskstand, 2m cable (important), pop filter and cradle (not that I use it). For what I do - basic level recording of guitar and vocals - it does the job. And I use Vista. Watch out for computer noise though, it will pick up that laptop/desktop hum, so having a looooong USB cable to get some distance (e.g. the other side of a door) is useful.

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With a price range of $99-$150 I seriously doubt there are a lot of subtle sonic differences to worry about.

I'd go with the Samson myself but, only because, I've heard a $100 Samson mic deliver a great sounding track. What was so great about this Samson mic? Absolutely nothing at all. The singer was exceptional. This should tell you something. A $150 USB mic isn't going to be the most exceptional microphone you've ever heard. All three of the mics listed here are probably pretty much the same. Don't expect miricles and you'll be fine. Remember, it's a $150 budget we're speaking about here.

It's never the microphone though. It is what you put in front of the microphone which matters.

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Sammy, I've had a Samson C01U USB mic for a few years now. It was £70 including deskstand, 2m cable (important), pop filter and cradle (not that I use it). For what I do - basic level recording of guitar and vocals - it does the job. And I use Vista. Watch out for computer noise though, it will pick up that laptop/desktop hum, so having a looooong USB cable to get some distance (e.g. the other side of a door) is useful.

I suspect that you are talking about the normal noise from a laptop fan, Len (though they can be very quiet). However, a couple of things are worth mentioning.

First, it can help to move the mic off the table the laptop is on (in case of any vibrations.

Second, some laptops give off a ground loop hum (and other noise). If you get this , try unplugging the laptop and just running it off the battery. It should quiet things down.

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It's the fan and the hard disk drive. I tried running on battery once but it made no difference. Got me thinking that it might be easier to record to a flash drive if it's fast enough. Might stop the hard disk flying off and kicking in the fan to compensate.

Lzi has it right though. I've a $100 mic and a $10 voice and I don't care too much about the hum. We can try to get the most from our budget kit but the best solution is to sing and play louder :)

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The general consensus I`m getting here is go with the Samson (or the like) to start out, that way if I want to go bigger and better down the road I won`t have wasted too much dough. If I can`t find one in stock, I will see about the Tascam. Agree with Lzi re what you put in front of the mic (it`s the chef, not the pans, right?). I will also see if I can get a longer USB cord, just in case as Alistair says, of ground loop hum. I`ll be making my purchase next weekend - will post results.

Cheers Lzi, Al, Len, M24, Harreh in no particular order!

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The general consensus I`m getting here is go with the Samson (or the like) to start out, that way if I want to go bigger and better down the road I won`t have wasted too much dough. If I can`t find one in stock, I will see about the Tascam. Agree with Lzi re what you put in front of the mic (it`s the chef, not the pans, right?). I will also see if I can get a longer USB cord, just in case as Alistair says, of ground loop hum. I`ll be making my purchase next weekend - will post results.

Cheers Lzi, Al, Len, M24, Harreh in no particular order!

Just to be clear, I'm advising you to get a longer usb cable so that you can put some distance and a door between your music and the noisy laptop. Alistair may have a separate point about ground hum (that's noise from the mains power supply) but I'm not advising you get a cable for that. Hope it all works out for you and good luck.

Just remember to increase the mic volume in vista once you've installed the driver. My samson mic volume in vista was set very low on install and it looked like it didn't work.

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I have the snowball nd I use it for the same a you are looking for I love it. It also has switch options to change from vocal Recording to instrument recording

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I have the snowball nd I use it for the same a you are looking for I love it. It also has switch options to change from vocal Recording to instrument recording

I'm not sure what "switch options" you are referring to, but I assume it must be the polar pattern. For Sammy's benefit, I should point out the the Samson has exactly the same options (cardioid, cardioid with -10dB pad and omnidirectional).

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Hey Musers, I called up Long and McQuade (Musical instrument specialists chain up here in the North Pole) and when I asked if they had any of the Samsons in stock, I was first asked what I specifically needed it for (as you guys asked) and then told that the Samson is great for podcasts but not for vocals. I told the guy that I was just a hacker looking to give a basic idea of vocals to my melodies so that a real singer could re-do it for me. He said nevertheless, I need the Tanscam, something else (AD20 or something) AND the interface AND a mike stand AND a ``pop screen``. He said that all of this would run me around $300-$400. I reiterated that I was just a hacker and not ready to invest more than $100 and he said that what he had quoted me was at the low end; the professional stuff would run about $7,000.

He said that they don`t keep any of the Samson products in stock ``we only keep in stock the stuff that works``. Ha ha ha...ha ha...eh..h....well then how about not advertising it on your website!!! (eeeejits!).

Sheesh. Anyone have any final remarks before I start looking for used versions of the gear he suggested?

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Sammy, the guy is an idiot. For what you want , which is what i do, a $100 usb mic will do the job. If it doesn't then you'll know more about what you do want. Stand yes, pop filter maybe depending on your singing style, cradle no. Don't listen to him.

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Welcome to the wonderful world of audio sales people :)

Their job is to upsell (especially when they don't have the item!). Their advice is usually worth what you pay for it (i.e.zero).

Here's a guy using a couple of Go mics for vocal and guitar (and there are others on Youtube) ..

Maybe just order it from Amazon?

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I picked up a Blue Snowball mic recently and like it very much. One thing that helps is that besides coming with that desk stand, it screws right into a standard microphone stand, giving me good precise control over mic placement.

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Thanks, for what the guy was asking me to spend I could buy some really great software! Anyway, I went out and got a $50 Centrios (low end)``professional`` mike with an adapter for my laptop. It works just fine after some fiddling with the mike level settings. I am using Jam Studio at the mo to work on some melodies. Only thing I am finding is that my vocal track lags behind my other tracks. I may not have the best voice, but I do have really sharp timing and when I am singing it, it seems on beat. Playback is off by about a half a second. Any advice on this?

Cheers folks,

A.

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I don't know how JamStudios works to set up which driver to use.

What you are experiencing is latency. You will be best with an ASIO driver for your soundcard. Download ASIO4ALL (it should work with your soundcard) and see if you can use that.

Don't buy expensive software. For simple recording, you could use Audacity (free) or Reaper (cheap for non-professionals).

I think you might have been better with the Go Mic, but what you have will work, I'm sure.

If you can't hear the latency when you are recording, it may just be a question of setting up Jamstudios to compensate properly. Sorry, but I don't know how JamStudios operates (maybe Kimberly can help?). OTher software has ways of setting up the compensation automatically.

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Hey Musers, I called up Long and McQuade (Musical instrument specialists chain up here in the North Pole) and when I asked if they had any of the Samsons in stock, I was first asked what I specifically needed it for (as you guys asked) and then told that the Samson is great for podcasts but not for vocals. I told the guy that I was just a hacker looking to give a basic idea of vocals to my melodies so that a real singer could re-do it for me. He said nevertheless, I need the Tanscam, something else (AD20 or something) AND the interface AND a mike stand AND a ``pop screen``. He said that all of this would run me around $300-$400. I reiterated that I was just a hacker and not ready to invest more than $100 and he said that what he had quoted me was at the low end; the professional stuff would run about $7,000.

He said that they don`t keep any of the Samson products in stock ``we only keep in stock the stuff that works``. Ha ha ha...ha ha...eh..h....well then how about not advertising it on your website!!! (eeeejits!).

Sheesh. Anyone have any final remarks before I start looking for used versions of the gear he suggested?

This guy you've been dealing with is the hack! Ask him if he has ever recorded a vocal? I wonder how many podcasts he's done!? $7000 huh? If you want to get professional level sound in your home, not pretend "professional" then, in reality you're looking at a minimal investment (gear only, does not include room treatment) of $25,000...$7,000 won't get you even close to "professional quality." And, no, Behringer isn't going to cut much mustard. Though, you will no doubt find, there is a virtual troop of Behringer users who swear by the crap (I wouldn't bet good money on any of their ears being very prescise)...Want "Professional?" Think Pro Tools HD, Logic, Nuendo. All that said however, at the end of the day it's going to come down to who is running the gear, and how good their ears are. You can make "Pro" quality recordings on lesser gear, the deciding factors being, Time spent, Patience, and most importantly, Care. Without reliable hearing however, you've lost before you begin. No gear in any studio is more important than the engineer's ears.

Welcome to the world of retail music store non-salespeople. Like Alstair already said, their entire game is to upsell, upsell, upsell. These "salespeople" don't know their rear-ends from a hole in the ground. For $100 the best mic in the entire world is a Shure SM 57 Dynamic. It won't sound "bad" on much of anything, and I know it sounds better than a $100 condensor anyday of the week. It's built like a tank, you can use it to drive nails (I have). Don't try this with a Samson mic though unless of course, you'd like to have a good cry!

Tell your "favorite" salesman, Lz said to go buy some ears. LOL

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LOL! Sorry I didn't see this earlier, I would have offered to go to Long and McQuade with you. The trouble you run into at those stores, at least the ones in Toronto is that they hire for certain departments but you'll always have people covering other areas, so the drum guy covers P.A./Recording and what not.

I like Long and McQuade, and the one I go to I've been to enough times and talked with enough of the staff to know who to ask about what. When I first started recording I went in to buy a Boss BR1600 that was on sale and the guy desperately tried to convince me that the Yamaha and Tascam recorders were much, much better. He went on a tangent about Roland and their customer service (have so far never had to deal with them)

Just do you your research and stick to your guns. L&M is a decent enough store and has some great musicians working there who are more than happy to talk shop (not commission based)

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The bottom line is simple. Most chain music stores are the same. It's upsell whatever the management pushes the teeny-bopper sales force (read: low cost) to sell. It's never about getting the "right gear" into the customer's hands, it's all about the money kids, it's a numbers game. You believe that it is not? Would you like to buy a bridge in Brooklyn? LOL WO_LD YO _ L_K_ TO B_Y A VOW_L _D_OT?

Think, if "getting the best gear into the hands of the customers" was truly the primary goal of any chain music store, why are there thousand's upon thousands of musicician's out there who actually believe that the paltry $2000 they've spent on their home studio actually delivers the world-class sound that the 17 year old snot nose kid sales rep so emphatically preaches about? Look at the thousands of reviews on Harmony Central or Gearslutz. 99% of these reviews are written by people who know absolutely nothing about the gear they are reviewing. You see, in order to make valid judgements on equipment YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO USE SOME GEAR NOT SIMPLY READ ABOUT IT! How much would someone who has only read about say, a UA LA2A or maybe used a crappy plug-in version, really know about how an LA2A operates/sounds? Do you really trust that wet-behind-the-ears kid sales rep? Do you trust in his vast knowledge of audio gear? You'd do much better to come buy my bridge in Brooklyn! If you are talking to a chain music store sales rep, you are talking to a walking, breathing Guitar Player Magazine ad, and not too much more. Yeah, I know, the sale's people are friendly right? HAHAHA Don't be fooled by a little "feel good, sunshine talk." Don't be the "average customer." Go to a REAL shop to buy your recording gear, or you deserve all of the Toy's R Us crap you get at these Music Mart Department stores. Recording IS NOT a skill for the masses, it's just not. You may choose to belive in fairytales though if you so choose.

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